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Edmund shows his resolve to prevail in battle of Britain

 

Well done: Dan Evans congratulates GB compatriot Kyle Edmund after their match at the Nature Valley International
Well done: Dan Evans congratulates GB compatriot Kyle Edmund after their match at the Nature Valley International

By Eleanor Crooks

Kyle Edmund progressed to the semi-finals of the Nature Valley International after battling back to win his all-British clash with Dan Evans.

The 24-year-old underlined his status as the country's No.1 player by recovering from a nightmare opening set to defeat a valiant Evans 1-6 6-3 6-4.

Edmund will face unseeded American Taylor Fritz for a place in tomorrow's final.

Evans, the British No.3, came in as the form player having won titles at Surbiton and Nottingham on grass this month.

An upset looked on the cards after the 29-year-old began confidently and breezed through the opening set.

He first broke South Africa-born Edmund in a bizarre opening game which was twice briefly disrupted, firstly by a spectator choking and then by a seagull landing on the court.

Edmund, who retired from the French Open last month with a knee injury, had won the only previous ATP Tour match between the players, at the 2017 Monte Carlo Masters.

His game was strewn with unforced errors in the opening set but he gradually settled and began to assert himself.

The World No.31 secured an important break in the third game of the second set, with mistakes beginning to creep into Evans' play.

With a vocal crowd getting behind both men, the decider remained on serve until the 10th game when Edmund eventually made the most of his fourth match point to ensure himself at least one more warm-up match before Wimbledon.

In the other semi-final, American Sam Querrey beat fifth seed Fernando Verdasco 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 and will play Italian Thomas Fabbiano, who defeated Queen's Club runner-up Gilles Simon 6-4 6-3.

Meanwhile, there will be no British qualifier in the main draw at Wimbledon for the second year in a row, after Liam Broady and Samantha Murray lost tight encounters in Roehampton.

British No.8 Broady was two sets up against Gregoire Barrere from France, but succumbed to a 3-6 0-6 6-2 6-4 6-3 defeat in two hours and 35 minutes.

After storming through the first two sets with some aggressive shot-making, Broady had break points at 2-1 in the third set but could not convert. And after the 25-year-old was broken in the next game, 12th seed Barrere raised his level and pulled away.

Broady said: "On that break point, I tried to take on a second serve and missed it wide, and that's the mistake which has cost me the main draw of Wimbledon.

"To miss a second serve return is a cardinal sin, particularly at that stage of the match, and I've paid the price. I think if I could have broken him there, he was wobbling and would've gone.

He will still play at the All England Club next week - he's been given a wildcard to play with compatriot Scott Clayton in the men's doubles.

Meanwhile, for Murray, who won five matches in a row to reach this stage after coming through pre-qualifying last week, it was also deciding set heartbreak, as 22nd seed Paula Badosa from Spain prevailed 6-4 2-6 6-3.

Despite the loss, Murray (31) said she'll probably sign in at Wimbledon next week hoping for a mixed doubles wildcard. Any chance she could play alongside namesake Andy?

"Absolutely, I would love to do that - but I'm not really expecting the call from him anytime soon!" she said.

Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber eased into the semi-finals of the Nature Valley International with a dominant straight-sets victory over former World No.1 Simona Halep.

The 31-year-old German, preparing to defend her title at the All England Club next week, progressed 6-4 6-3 in Eastbourne.

Kerber secured two early breaks of serve in each set and proved too strong for her Romanian opponent with a series of aggressive ground strokes.

"I know to play against Simona you have to play until the last point because you never know what could happen," said Kerber.

"For me, it's important to have another good match and go with confidence to Wimbledon."

World No.5 Kerber, a two-time runner-up, will face unseeded Ons Jabeur in the last four.

Tunisian Jabeur, who on Wednesday knocked out British No.1 Johanna Konta, battled back from a set down to defeat France's Alize Cornet 1-6 7-5 6-3.

In the bottom half of the draw, third seed Kiki Bertens will play 2017 winner Karolina Pliskova.

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